[VIDEO] Real or Fake?: Cindy Chang’s “Susan Boyle” Moment on America’s Got Talent #AGT
Attention all Asian Americans: When was the last time you broke past your “Tiger” parents’ expectations by going into the arts?
Well apparently, Cindy Chang had HER moment last night on national broadcast television on “America’s Got Talent.” But is this “breaking expectations of tough Asian parents” story real or just made for TV?
At a pint-sized 5’1”, 42-year-old Korean-American housewife Cindy Chang looked rather uncertain and unpolished. She came out snorting when she laughed, and full-of-nerves last night during this final leg of the “America’s Got Talent” auditions.
Then, the music cued and she opened her mouth. Out came a beautifully trained operatic voice. Three yeses later from judges Piers Morgan, Sharon Osbourne, and Howie Mandel, and Cindy Chang was going to Vegas.
What’s her story? Cindy talked about how her parents didn’t know she was auditioning and how she “wanted to always be a singer but [her] parents said no.” Fighting back tears, Cindy said she only started to get voice lessons in her mid-twenties and felt late to the game. After impressing the judges and taking in the standing ovation, Cindy finally broke down and wept with gratitude.
I have to admit: she moved me. Seeing a nervous Asian American face grateful for the opportunity to share her artistic passion and being so well-received by an audience always inspires me. Knowing she can tell this story to a national American audience is even more heartening.
But after a quick search, turns out there’s a little controversy. Some folks are disputing Cindy’s claims of being the closet opera singer repressed by her parental expectations. She is represented by a Chicago-based talent agency, has a rather lengthy performing arts resume, and head shots sporting confident and well-coiffed versions of herself.
What’s my verdict? I say BOTH. Real and fake-ish (Puuuuuure speculation, people. But oh. It’s fun.)
I can see how for purposes of telling the story of “America’s Got Talent” Cindy played up the pressures of having disapproving Asian parents; One of the most satisfying elements of the show that keeps people coming back is seeing real talent come from unassuming “amateur” packages. (“She was so great and she didn’t even really know it!”) We want to feel like we, as part of the audience, are truly discovering talent-in-the-rough.
It may be true that her parents never really approved of her work, even as she built a rather lengthy resume. I have a number of friends in entertainment who are considered near the top of their game. But their parents didn’t really accept their work was “real” until they got written up in the Chicago Tribune or had their name appearing on credits of a broadcast television show as an Executive Producer.
So maybe beyond the credits that Cindy Chang already has, she hasn’t really gotten any other breaks. Maybe she has been a little down on the prospects of getting gigs in entertainment as a young-ish looking 42-year old Asian American woman. Then, yeah. I say…feel free to turn on the waterworks and a sense of catharsis that comes with being recognized for your talent, whether or not you are TRULY feeling the iron fist of your hard-ass Asian parents disapproval. More power to you, Cindy Chang.
See for yourself! What do YOU think?: